Let’s start with a piece of trivia. What are there more of: people in the United States of America or motorists in China? The answer: people in the US – but just barely. 319 million call the USA home while 300 million motorists drive on China’s streets (let’s not get into the fact that 2 out of 3 Chinese adults have no license to drive!)
Congested roadways, polluted air, frustrated drivers: this is the ugly side of a country with 300 million motorists and counting. The situation in China has grown so dire that the national government introduced license number quotas to limit the number of new vehicles. Now there’s a new glimmer of hope on the horizon: carsharing.
Back for round two
A few years ago, carsharing companies struggled to set up shop in China. People were too attached to their cars as a symbol of status and success, and those who did test carsharing solutions complained that vehicles were too difficult to find, let along park, in the country’s sprawling megacities. Now a handful of new programmes are taking a second go, with solutions better tailored to Chinese needs. Here’s a look at a few.
In early 2015, the carsharing provider car2go announced its partnership with the city of Chongqing, municipal population of over 29 million, where it plans to launch a carsharing programme later this year. car2go’s objective: appeal to the so-called “new mobile generation”, Millennials between 20-30 who value flexibility and spontaneity over ownership.
Shanghai residents recently welcomed the country’s first-ever fully electric carsharing product, EVCARD. It currently offers a pool of 350 Roewe E50 EVs and plans to soon increase its fleet to around 2,000. With its easy booking and payment system via smartcard and smartphone app, EVCARD clearly targets younger, tech-affine Chinese drivers.
Destined for success?
The stakes are good that carsharing will boom in China this time around – assuming providers solve the parking problem. One idea: look to corporate carsharing solutions for inspiration. Corporate fleets are parked onsite where employees easily access them during the day and can book them for private use outside of working hours. Clever, right?